Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder is a problem that affects millions of children all over the world. In the US alone, nearly 11% of children are estimated to be suffering from the disorder. Children suffering from ADHD are generally inattentive, impulsive, struggle to process information and follow instructions, and tend to get distracted easily.
Conventional Treatment for ADHD
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends behavioral therapy as the first-line treatment for ADHD in young children between two to five years of age. Therapy, along with social skills training, is known to improve behavior in children and lower the risk of psychological problems, like clinical depression, criminal behavior, and substance abuse, considerably.
The problem, however, is that a large number of children are treated with medication rather than therapy. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that nearly 50% of preschoolers with ADHD are taking medication and 25% of them are treated only with medication. Only 50% of four and five-year-old children with ADHD receive behavioral therapy
There are two reasons why these numbers are worrying – the risk of side effects and the risk of misdiagnosis.
The Risk of Side Effects
The medications that are commonly prescribed for ADHD are known to have a number of side effects, including loss of appetite, loss of sleep, irritability, delayed growth, elevated heart rate, and even seizures. In some cases, the side effects are so severe that the risks actually outweigh the benefits. Many parents, unfortunately, are unaware of these risks. Hence, they do not think twice before putting their children on these medications.